Rep. Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma, a Republican, and 14 other House Republicans are urging the Department of the Interior (DOI) to undertake federal oil and gas lease sales in accordance with the law in order to address the country’s energy issue.
According to a letter the representatives sent to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Bice and the Republicans claimed that the Interior is violating the Mineral Leasing Act because the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management has failed to hold oil and gas lease auctions during each quarter of President Joe Biden’s administration. Under Biden, federal lease sales are at their lowest point in almost 80 years because the administration has persistently prevented sales to advance its climate goals.
Bice told the Daily Caller News Foundation that “the energy catastrophe we are in is a result of their own actions. This administration fails states while simultaneously disseminating false information about the oil and gas business in its hurry to pursue the Green New Deal.”
On January 26, Biden halted the granting of new oil and gas leases as part of a broad initiative to restrict the extraction of fossil fuels on federal lands and address the “climate crisis.” The suspension would continue “until the conclusion of a study and reassessment of oil and gas permits and leasing systems,” according to Biden’s executive order.
The Interior proposed its Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program in July and gave a hint that it would postpone future lease sales for the following five years after the DOI finished its evaluation of leasing processes in November 2021. Reduced offshore drilling auctions would result in higher energy costs and a greater reliance on foreign oil, according to a report released in late August by the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM).
As part of his aggressive climate plan, which aims to reach net-zero emissions across the economy by 2050, Biden pledged during the campaign to prohibit oil and gas extraction on federal lands.
After a federal judge nullified the initial lease auction in February, the government accepted 307 leasing bids totaling nearly $190 million as part of Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico in September, according to a BOEM press release. According to provisions in the Democrats’ $740 billion environmental, tax, and health care funding bill that Biden signed into law in August, the administration was supposed to sell off federal lands and waterways for drilling, including one before the end of this year.